Apple Closes Multiple Stores In Response To Higher COVID Rates

Apple temporarily closed three stores due to concerns over high COVID-19 case counts.

CNBC reported that a store in Miami, Florida, will be closed through Thursday, and stores in Ottawa, Ontario, and Annapolis, Maryland, will be closed through Friday. The outlet explained:

The closures raise questions about the impact of the Covid pandemic on the holiday-shopping season amid concerns from public health authorities about the impact of the omicron variant, which appears to be more transmissible…

Apple said that store employees will take Covid-19 tests before reopening, so the closures could be delayed beyond Thursday and Friday, depending on the results. Apple’s retail employees have had access to weekly at-home tests provided by the company since earlier this year.

Apple also announced this week that it will require face masks for customers at all stores in the United States.

In addition to store closings, the iPhone maker has adjusted individual store policies in response to regional conditions, including an emphasis on customer pickups via online purchases instead of in-store shopping and increasing the amount of space to social distance.

Policymakers across the United States are growing increasingly wary over the Omicron variant of COVID-19. For example, California officials unveiled a statewide universal indoor masking mandate that will last until January 15. Philadelphia announced that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be necessary to dine indoors at bars, restaurants, sporting events, and other food-related establishments.

Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially stated that about eight in 10 people who have caught Omicron were fully vaccinated. Dr. Anthony Fauci — who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and works as President Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19 — believes that “if you want to be optimally protected you really should get a booster.”

Meanwhile, the military has begun discharging those who have not yet been inoculated. Politico reported:

The Navy has begun kicking out sailors who refuse to get the Covid-19 vaccine, but it won’t slap dishonorable discharges on anyone for their decision to ignore a direct order.

Overall, 5,731 active-duty sailors remain unvaccinated, and at this point Navy officials say they believe most of those will likely continue to refuse the order, weeks after the Nov. 28 deadline for full vaccination… 

A total of 336,000 sailors are vaccinated, a massive undertaking that service leaders stressed was necessary to keep ships crewed during deployments, where sailors work in close contact in cramped spaces for months at a time.

The announcement comes the same week the Air Force discharged more than two-dozen airmen for refusing the shot.

As other countries embrace renewed COVID-19 restrictions, they sacrifice their precariously-positioned economies. In Germany — where Olaf Scholz recently replaced longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel as head of the German government — policymakers announced a new lockdown for unvaccinated citizens. Meanwhile, Scholz’s government displayed a willingness to take hardline measures against the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, however, the German economy will shrink by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2021 in comparison with the third. The group also predicts a 3.3% rise in consumer prices — well above the European Central Bank’s 2% target.

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